Understanding what consumers say and think about brands has never been more important
Savanta’s Qualitative Practice Group is made up of a hive mind of brand and sector experts, with specialisms including FMCG, wealth, finance, transport and services, media, and strategic and behavioural.
This year we are launching Consumer Unwrapped – a webinar series designed to uncover and explore the emerging consumer trends we’ve been observing in our various fields.
As the qualitative media sector specialist in the team, one recurring trend that particularly resonated with me was the notion that ‘authenticity is king’:
The Attention Economy forces brands to bombard consumers with a cacophony of messages and ads across social, digital, and physical mediums. Brands are starting to sound alike, feeding an inherent distrust and perception that brands pretend to care. Instead, consumers are turning to peers for authentic feedback and relying on social commerce to construct their perceived value of a brand.
– Consumer Unwrapped 2023
We’ve found this to be particularly pertinent when looking at creative and communications evaluation work. Consumers build up a picture of a brand from their own experiences, brand, or sector associations – if a brand communicates a message outside of expectations or wider understanding, in a disingenuous way, consumers are likely to switch off completely.
Being self-aware has never been more important for brands; social media has taken away the ability for them to own their own narrative. Keeping an ear to the ground is essential, ensuring they’re aware of what consumers are saying about them – both the good and the bad. Brands can push their agenda through marketing channels all they want, but the reality is, an increasing number of consumers are turning to their peers for honest reviews and insights.
Demonstrating self-awareness in communications can stop consumers in their tracks. Seeing the type of conversations usually reserved for having with friends, or deep in the comments section of an Instagram post coming directly from a brand is highly refreshing.
For example, Samsung’s ‘Join the Flipside’ ad aims to convince consumers to stray from the familiar – and in doing so, perfectly nails the rhetoric of Gen Z audiences.
The advert addresses an ideology – commonly held by the younger generations – that can effectively be summed up as ‘I would never get a Samsung’. By challenging the dogma, and poking fun at our blind loyalties to major tech firms, Samsung demonstrates a level of self-awareness that can only be commended.
It’s daring and playful – and has the potential to capture the attention of even the most devoted Apple enthusiasts:
Similarly, Swedish dairy alternative drink brand Oatly, which has recently taken a turn for the worse in the PR stakes (court cases, sketchy investors, questionable practices… among other things) showed clear self-awareness of its spiralling credibility.
The brand saw an opportunity to take some control of the narrative in a truly authentic Oatly way and launched the website ‘F*ck Oatly’. A collation of all the recent negative stories circulating about them and a ‘time machine of all things bad about an oat drink company’. This move gave Oatly the chance to not only address the negativity head on, but to reclaim some of the previous light-hearted, ‘anti-corporate’ associations it cultivated early on.
Even brands looking to communicate positive messages around hot topic areas such as sustainability need to be mindful of pre-existing brand associations. Consumers can be sceptical of brands, with terms like ‘green washing’ quick to be thrown at marketing efforts if intentions feel disingenuous or misaligned to associations.
Understanding what consumers say and think about brands has never been more important. This insight can enable your brand to plan the most impactful and credible communications approaches that will have the ‘authenticity’ required to retain current customers and gain new ones.
To hear more about Consumer Unwrapped or our approach to communication and creative testing, get in touch here.